International Cultivar Registration Authorities (ICRAs)

Welcome to the web pages provided by the ISHS Special Commission for Cultivar Registration. The executive committee of this Special Commission is responsible for the appointment of all International Cultivar Registration Authorities (ICRAs) and for the monitoring of their work. The executive committee receives annual reports from each ICRA and reassesses appointments every four years.
These pages provide a listing of all current ICRAs together with electronic links where these are available. The ICRA system has now been in operation for over 50 years and has contributed significantly to the stability and fixity of cultivated plant nomenclature. The scheme operates under the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ICNCP) and its chief aim is to prevent duplicated uses of cultivar and Group epithets within a defined denomination class (usually a genus), as well as ensuring that names are in all other respects in accord with the latest edition of the ICNCP.

The system is a voluntary, non-statutory one and does not confer any legal protection over the name or the plant. Such protection has to be sought through statutory schemes such as national Plant Breeders' Rights or Plant Patents. The ICRA system is in effect the horticultural world's attempt at self-policing of nomenclature and is truly international in its scope.
The success of the ICRA system depends upon the co-operation of all those involved with the creation and marketing of new plants. Generally all that is required is the submission of the name and any other relevant data to the ICRA. The ICRA will check each new epithet to ensure that it has not been used before and that in all other respects it is in accord with the ICNCP and then notify the registrant accordingly. Applicants should remember that registration may be refused if the name has been used before and should await the ICRA's decision before implementing any marketing for the plant. ICRAs are not responsible for assessing the distinctiveness of the plant in question.

Each ICRA is also charged with ensuring that new names are formally established (i.e. published in hard copy, with a description in a dated publication). Establishment in this context is an important concept since it is only after such publication that the name has precedence for its use for a particular plant. Whilst the ICRA will ensure through its own publications that names are established, registrants should not necessarily rely on this and should try to ensure that their new names are securely established as soon after registration as possible.

ICRAs will also ask the applicant to provide some further details about the plant, such as parentage, the names of those concerned with its development and introduction, together with a basic description which highlights its distinctive characters. It is essential that some descriptive element is provided and the more authentic data that can be provided at this stage the more valuable will be the store of data held by the ICRA in its Register and Checklist. This database soon becomes a valuable resource for all those interested in that group of plants.

Those appointed as ICRAs represent a wide range of societies and institutions and will often be a specialist society interested in that particular group of plants. They receive no funding. ICRAs may be based anywhere in the world and currently are located in many European countries, North America, China, India, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Puerto Rico. In every case their remit is international, although in some cases they may operate though a series of national representatives to facilitate the initial collation of data from raisers. Most ICRAs can be contacted electronically and many maintain excellent web sites which are noted in the lists on other pages of this web site.
ICRAs may record more than just cultivar and Group epithets as they may also note trade designations and trademarks used in labelling plant material, so as to help avoid confusion with properly established names. Variety denominations used by some statutory registration authorities are exactly equivalent to cultivar epithets.

Whilst the current ICRA system covers a considerable number of the horticulturally significant plant genera the Commission is always keen to learn of other organisations who might be interested in taking up the challenge of becoming an ICRA. For further information on genera not currently covered and for guidance on how any application to become an ICRA should be submitted please contact the Secretary of the Special Commission (Dr A.C. Leslie, 109 York Street, Cambridge CB1 2PZ, UK. Email: alanleslie_at_rhs.org.uk).

The ISHS collaboration in the above is instrumental and limited to hosting the ICRA data-set on the ISHS web pages. ISHS is by no means responsible for the appointment of Registrars, nor is the Society responsible for the content of the ICRA pages. The ISHS takes no legal responsibility for neither the ICRAs nor the Registrars.

ICRA related options: